Movement. From the perspective of the brain, movement is only ever performed with a functional reason in mind. We are designed to move with a functional, practical purpose. Our modern lives, however, mean that in many instances our movement is far less functional, and much more mentally driven. We use movement not in a responsive way, as a means to meet the needs of our body, and more in reaction to what we think we “should” be doing.
If we then swap from humans to horses, every move a horse makes is for a practical reason. There is no point in your horse’s life where they think to themselves, shall we just walk a figure of 8 together to get our steps up? Or, who’s up for a brisk 5km jog to keep trim? It doesn’t happen.
Our horses are so brave, magical and mystical that they let us do all manner of things where the purpose to them is entirely unclear. My riding adventures this week with Merc have very much been about motivating movement (can we go forward with energy?) whilst making it clear to him that this movement is FOR something… be that to reach a destination I’ve decided on, move the ball around the arena, shift the sheep in the paddock.
I need to consider; can I make the reason for this movement make sense to my horse? Can I make him not only understand it, but be an enthusiastic participant?
As riders, there are many times when we want more forward, more lift of the shoulders, more sharpness in the aids, and yet when we ask this of our horses, we have nothing in mind beyond that particular aid.
Forward to where?
Lift for what purpose?
Why does the movement from walk to trot need to be so exact?
Which might be…
… to reach that destination
… to move up and around these barrels/gate/object
…to move the stock/chase the ball/keep up with “x”
If relation to anything of the above, what can you add to your training that would naturally encourage it? That would make your horse understand a purpose behind the request?
Part of an ongoing conversation.